Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau participated for the 48th edition of the world's largest travel trade show, International Travel Brochure (ITB) 2014 at Messe Berlin fairground from 03rd to 09th March 2014 in Berlin-Germany. Representing Sri Lanka, 120 representatives from top 60 travel and tourism agencies and hotel sector took part in this event, making this event to be the one with the largest number of participants ever from Sri Lanka. At the ITB 2014 travel trade show 10,147 tourism companies from 189 countries represented on a display area covering 160,000 square meters. The Sri Lanka delegation to Berlin is led by the Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority, Dr. D.S. Jayaweera and The Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Germany, H.E. Mr. Sarath Kongahage with the officials from both institutes.
Sri Lanka Tourism Stall
Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau (SLTPB), under the leadership of Hon. Basil Rajapaksa the Minister of Economic Development, has identified Germany as a key market among the traditional tourist markets of Sri Lanka, actions were taken to set up an attractive stall in the ITB, inclusive of all the tourism products related to the market of Germany. Accordingly this year Sri Lanka Tourism stall was specifically designed in order to showcase major attractions favored by German travelers. The tourism stall has given much focus on promoting Sri Lankan Ayurvedic products, Sri Lankan wildlife, beaches and heritage to the German tourists. The Sri Lanka stand was ceremoniously opened on 05th March with the participation of key industry stakeholders of Sri Lanka.
The entrance to the Sri Lankan stand is displayed a replica of the ancient kingdom of Yapahuwa to highlight the ancient historical marvels of the country. Two life size elephants were places in the Sri Lankan stall to provide a feeling of the wildlife attractions available in Sri Lanka. A wide screen video wall had been setup in with images and videos of beaches to give a live feeling of being in the beaches of Sri Lanka. Ayurveda and indigenous medicine had been a key attraction of ITB stall of Sri Lanka where separate area was dedicated for spa treatments and giving visitors the opportunity to experience various treatments at this section. A traditional mask maker from Aluthgama did mask carving demonstrations at the stall while conducting sessions of mask painting to the visitors who came there. Ceylon tea was served throughout the ITB 2014 for visitors, through the Tea Bar places inside the Sri Lanka pavilion. Sri Lanka Tourism also specifally designed branded kit for all co- participants from Sri Lanka including a brochure providing guidance for the participation of Sri Lanka at ITB 2014, Dockets/ note books and a pens/Bags, T-shirt and a cap. With all these items in place Sri Lankan stall was able to attract many numbers with its unique design and experiences offered.
Start off Press Conference
The Sri Lankan press conference was held on 5th March 2014 attended by International journalists representing major travel and tourism publications. Speaking at the press conference Dr. D.S. Jayaweera –Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism stated to the media that “ Sri Lanka is aiming to generate a revenue in the excess of US$ 4.2 billion from the tourism industry by 2016. In addition the country hopes to attract 2.6 million tourist arrivals by 2016. Sri Lanka is already experiencing attractive number of visitors to the country and the annual growth rate of arrivals last year being 26.5% comparative to previous year. From Germany 85,470 travelers were received in 2013 recording 20% overall growth with the revenue generated from this segment being US$ 170 million. By 2016 the strategic development plan aims to attract 130,000 visitors from Germany in order to achieve the set target of 2.6 million tourists. He also remarked that the tourism industry of Sri Lanka will move to the top there foreign exchange earners for the country very soon.
Launch of Mega Taxi Advertising Campaign in Germany
Subsequent to the press conference Sri Lanka Tourism launched a Taxi advertising campaign on 07th March 2014 at Messe Berlin fairground. The taxi advertising campaign was launched by H.E. Sarath Kongahage – Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Berlin and Dr.D.S. Jayaweera – Director General of Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority with the participation key decision makers representing travel agencies, tour operators and hotel sector of Sri Lanka who showcased for ITB Berlin 2014. Under this campaign 300 taxies were branded focusing on tourism attraction themes appealing to the German market such as Ayurveda, Wildlife, Beaches, Heritage and Culture. The campaign will run for a period of six consecutive months covering major cities in Germany such as Berlin, Hamburg, Munich and Frankfurt etc . The Ambassador of Sri Lanka in Germany, Sarath Kongahage highlighted that this is the first time ever a Taxi campaign of this magnitude was used for promotions in Germany.
The Taxi campaign is aimed to attract high-end tourists to the country by reaching the key cities in Germany where the frequency of spotting these advertisements is quite high. Sri Lanka Tourism Promotion Bureau Chairman Mr. Bashwara Gunarathna has said that SLTPB is planning to launch a bus advertising campaign and an underground advertising campaign in Germany further to the newly launched Taxi advertising campaign. SLTPB has initiated the “Global Mega Promotional Campaign” this year under the guidance of The Ministry of Economic Development of Sri Lanka with the intention of increasing tourist arrivals from European region. The campaign will cover other European countries such as France, UK in the upcoming months of this year.
Meanwhile, the SLTPB also took steps to arrange Business Meetings, exclusive media interviews, investment meetings during the ITB Berlin 2014.
This year's ITB Berlin reported a four per cent rise in trade visitors and an increase in business volume, which Messe Berlin. Around 5,700 accredited journalists from 81 countries and some 300 bloggers from 25 countries reported on events at ITB Berlin this year. Politicians and diplomats from Germany and abroad were present at the show. In addition to 125 foreign delegations, 97 ambassadors from around the world, 44 ministers from abroad foreign a numerous undersecretaries were also present. Vice Chancellor and Federal Economics and Energy Minister Sigmar Gabriel, Federal Minister of Justice and Consumer Protection Heiko Maas and Governing Mayor of Berlin Klaus Wowereit came to find out what the travel industry had to offer. SLTPB anticipates a turnout of around 130,000 tourists from Germany to visit Sri Lanka this year. In 2016, the government’s ambition to achieve 2.5 million tourist arrivals, the total expectation of tourists from Germany will amount to be 200,000.